In April 2019 the Commerce Act was amended. It means that engaging in cartel conduct can now be a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. The civil penalties contained within the Commerce Act continue to apply.
What is a cartel?
A cartel is where two or more businesses agree not to compete with each other. This conduct can take many forms, including price fixing, dividing up markets, rigging bids or restricting output of goods and services. See more information on what is a cartel.
When does cartel criminalisation take effect?
The criminalisation of cartels comes into effect on 8 April 2021.
Any cartel agreement entered into after 8 April 2021 will be subject to the criminal legislation.
If a cartel agreement was entered into before 8 April 2021, but continues to be given effect after 8 April 2021, the giving effect to that agreement will be subject to the criminal legislation.
How will the Commission handle criminal investigations?
After 8 April 2021, the Commission will continue to be responsible for investigating cartels affecting New Zealand, and make the decision to prosecute by applying the test for prosecution in the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines. The case will be prosecuted by a member of the appointed prosecution panel.
How is the Commission planning for criminalisation?
The Commission is preparing proactively for the introduction of cartel criminalisation. This will include an outreach campaign to raise awareness of criminalisation and cartel conduct. The Commission will update this page as the date of criminalisation approaches.
The Commission will also update its published guidelines affected by criminalisation and produce answers to frequently asked questions such as ‘how will the Commission decide whether to prosecute criminally or civilly?’.